Aina Shormanbayeva, president of public foundation “International legal initiative” of Kazakhstan, explained that among other negative consequences of irregular migration are worker exploitation, overdue salary, lack of legal employment opportunities, and lack of guaranteed protection of rights of migrant workers, respectively.

-When a migrant goes to another country to find work, without an employment agreement, or without any idea of where and how they would work, on which conditions, for what salary, they have high risks of becoming a victim of fraud or even worse slavery. Therefore, both country of origin and host country should use every effort to avoid such risks by entering into bilateral and multilateral agreements on labour migration, guarantees of protection of rights of migrant workers. Thus, migrant workers will be protected and confident of protection of their rights, and that guilty parties will be held liable in case of violations.

What can be done by states and civil society organisations in Central Asia to improve the situation in this sphere?

Shormonbayeva: The civil society of Central Asia with high mobility of migrant workers must and should duly respond to the violations of their rights, help them protect their rights at the national and international levels. It includes legal assistance to people both before and after labour migration, raising their awareness on their rights in their native language, working with governments of their countries and international community to comply with international human rights commitments, including rights of migrant workers. The civil society both in countries of origin and in host countries is actively working in the above-mentioned spheres with support of international donors, and often driven by their enthusiasm.

What role should international organisations, ILO and IOM play in this situation?

Shormonbayeva: Such specialised international organisations in the UN system should stand for international standards of human rights in the field of migration and labour rights. In our opinion, in CA region ILO is the organisation that is most actively protecting labour rights, including independent trade unions. The tools used by ILO are more efficient. ILO prefers working with state authorities, paying less attention to the human rights work. In this sphere, ILO is more focused on providing direct assistance to the victims of human trafficking. However, the corruption issue is raised more by independent organisations and groups when investigating the cases of human trafficking, violation of human rights of migrant workers.

The article was prepared by the School of Peacemaking and Media Technology in Central Asia as part of the media campaign of the XII International Festival of Human Rights Films.